Occupational Skin Diseases

The skin forms the barrier between a person and their environment. It protects the body from harmful environmental effects, but is exposed to those same potential risks. Especially in industry, the skin has to resist many potential hazards. If the skin is not sufficiently protected, skin damage and disease may occur.

A third of all confirmed occupational diseases in industry affect the skin. In 2010 alone, over 23,500 new cases of dermatitis occurred. Experts assume that the actual number might be 50 to 100 times higher.

Functions of the Skin

With a total surface of about two square meters, the skin is the biggest human organ. It is not only the body’s outer cover, but also carries out a multitude of important tasks. As a barrier, it protects the body from mechanical, chemical and thermal influences, reduces the harmful effects of sunlight and wards off microorganisms. The skin regulates the body-heat balance and contains oils, carbohydrates, water and salts. Basic metabolic processes take place inside the skin. The skin forms the outer appearance of a human being and therefore, it is very important for social life and self-perception.

The Pathogenesis of Dermatitis In The Workplace

90 percent of all occupational skin diseases are irritant and allergic eczema caused by the direct contact with hazardous substances. These substances are often only slightly skin irritating, but over time, the delayed effects from repetitive irritation may cumulatively

damage the skin. The outer layer of the skin is the horny layer, which serves as a barrier against chemical and physical influences. Water and fat dissolving chemicals such as detergents and organic solvents loosen the building blocks of the horny layer and undermine its barrier function. Due to this damage, the skin increasingly loses water, dries out and becomes rough and chapped. Moreover, hazardous substances and potential allergens can be absorbed more easily into the skin and may cause further damage.


A healthy horny layer continuously regenerates and the dead epithelial cells of the horny layer are always being replaced. However, repeated irritation also attacks and damages the skin’s ability to heal itself. This may result in chronic skin disease.

Dermatitis – The Most Frequent Occupational Disease

Occupational skin diseases are by far the most frequent health risk at work. More than 25 percent of all occupational diseases are skin related. Many occupational dermatitis issues run a chronic course, if they are not recognized and treated in time.

It is estimated that up to $5 billion is lost annually in industry due to the loss of productivity caused by occupational skin diseases. Small and medium sized companies, where industrial safety and occupational medical care are not always available, are impacted the most.

Consequences for Affected Persons and Society

Loss of manpower, retraining, disability and medical costs – occupational skin diseases result in higher costs for the economy and the healthcare system. But above all, they are a high personal stress factor for the affected people, who often are no longer able to pursue their profession.

Skin Protection and Prevention

Peter Greven Skin Care offers a wide range of Before Work Creams, Hand Cleansers, and Skin Conditioner that will virtually eliminate occupational skin disease and damage when used in a systematic skin care plan.

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